The Path of Madness
“…and now that you both have found it, I can only hope you shall wait for me in the clearing at the end of the path. Long days and pleasant nights, comrades; from this day on, I move forever forward.”
Two long mounds of dirt stretch out before him. There was once grass where these mounds now present, green and supple grass, soft enough to lay upon with a friend, a lover, mayhap even one’s self. The soil beneath the grass was soft, soft but firm, and digging the trenches was not an easy job. Of course, that which is easy is so rarely worth doing; to wander through the forest with nowhere to go is a simple feat, any ‘man can do it, but to build a house? Nay, to build a home? That requires gumption, courage, a want for a better life, but most of all it requires effort, a due to be paid, and the price is never cheap.
At the heads of each of these long mounds of freshly moved dirt are markers, tall like obelisks and slender like the stems of saplings when they first burst through the ground. On the left is a hammer, a mighty sledge with an anvil of unfaltering metal, a precious alloy untarnished from the gallons of blood it spilled from the veins of the wicked and evil, a grand weapon which once gleamed like the silver light of the Halla, swung only by the strongest of hands; on the right is a staff, one carved from a bent length of steelwood until the curves and knots fell into line, capped with the skeletal mitt of a beast felled before the dawn of time. In its palm is clutched a brilliant gemstone, one which shone with all the colors of the rainbow and then some. One which no longer shines at all.
Both weapons are stark black, singed by divine fires of magicks unbounded just like the corpses of the Rotting Ents, an army once millions strong felled by two ‘mans of honor, ‘mans of worth, ‘mans unafraid to do what must be done no matter how difficult the task. The ‘mans who left him behind, for there was no other choice to be made. Jericho Tower, once a proud and sacred structure built tall of ghostwood and stained a sooty charcoal black, now lies in a heap of charcoal and soot and ghastly gray ashes.
Friction leads to a spark. A spark leads to flames. Flames lead to smoke, and smoke? Smoke always blows away. Then there’s only ashes, and they blow away too.
The Triad is broken, the dead put to rest. The Tower has fallen like hot teardrops unto the freshly laid dirt, and Albey the Mad Poet is the only one left. He was not always Mad, he was once a brilliant scrawler of symbols both arcane and just, a queer sort of prophet whose hand was guided by the mind, though not by his own. His tool is the quill sheathed to his chest like a dagger, his medium the scroll holstered to his hip like a sixgun, his muse… his muse is now as dead as those he once roamed the endless wood with, those with whom he made his home, those two great ‘mans called Iuqon and Ram’rl, the Mage and the Unfallen.
“May you both rest in grandest Peace.”
But there is new inspiration for the Poet, a new cause to take air into lung, a new path he shall walk to find definition. It is the path of madness, for the Poet has surely gone Mad; Mad with sorrow, Mad with rage, Mad with vengeance. The Rotting Ents were not always Rotting, they were once a kind and loving race… but they fell victim to a scourge, a sickness so terrible, one which did not, which could not have risen out of thin air. One which was concocted, which boiled in a cauldron until its sick fetid fumes rose miserably into the air to be carried whichever way the wind chose to blow. One which was spread by a great evil, an evil faceless but not without form.
Albey rises from his knees and looks up to the sky, a deep pool of infinite blue dotted with fluffy clouds of purest white. He will find this monster who has murdered his friends, he will scour the forest to strike down this evil villain, he will burn the endless wood to the ground if that’s what he must do, he will… he… he falls back to his knees, hanging his head in shame.
“I won’t,” he says, voice shaken and weak. “I cannot… I shall not. My efforts will be in vain unless they’re lent to the right task.” Albey looks to the grave of Ram’rl the Unfallen and says, “You had me make a promise.” To the grave of Iuqon the Mage, “And you had me take an oath.” To his shadow, deep and black, darkening the soft supple grass between the graves. “The Lodge still stands and holds all it contains; power unmatched, secrets untold. It musn’t be abandoned, musn’t be allowed to fall into the wrong hands, lest The Hillside Commons rot along with the Ents.”
There is a job to do, then, a job suited justly to Albey the Mad Poet, for only he has the means to get it done. A hand shaken and words whispered, a hex cast and a push shoved. When all good things come to their end, there is but one move left to make. One path left to take.
The Mad Poet stands, slaps the dirt off his knees, and leaves the clearing at the end of the path.
This has been the first subchapter of the Exordium of The Face of Fear, a novel about bigfoot written by the writer in Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~